OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

May 15, 1996

Ms. Maureen S. Smith
Vice President, Human Resources
Yardney Technical Products, Inc.
82 Mechanic Street
Pawcatuck, Connecticut 06379

Dear Ms. Smith:

This letter is in response to your letter of April 8, 1996, addressed to Ms. Juanita Jones of my staff, requesting a permanent variance from the permissible exposure level for silver metal (29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-1 - Limits for Air Contaminants of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards). Based on the information you submitted, we have determined that it is inappropriate to entertain a variance from the standard and, therefore, no further action will be taken on your variance request. The rationale of the decision is explained below.

The OSHA air contaminants standard requires employers to maintain employee exposures to toxic air contaminants at or below permissible exposure limits with engineering or administrative controls, whenever feasible. If feasible engineering or administrative controls are not fully effective, then the remainder of the required protection must be obtained using personal respiratory protection devices as specified under 29 CFR 1910.134. Accordingly, the employer must demonstrate why it is infeasible to achieve compliance using engineering and administrative controls before using respirators.

Your affected employees must be informed of this standard clarification by posting this letter in all places where notices to employees are normally posted and, if applicable, giving a copy to the authorized employees' representative.

If you have any questions concerning your variance request, please contact Ms. Juanita Jones in the Office of Variance Determination at (202) 219-7193.


Al Abadir
Acting Director
Office of Variance Determination